Definition of catch one's breath in US English:

catch one's breath

phrase

  • 1Cease breathing momentarily in surprise or fear.

    • ‘As I walked out of our cottage, the sky caught my breath as I muttered a "thank you" to God for such a beautiful place.’
    • ‘The pain wasn't too bad but it caught my breath.’
    pant, puff, puff and pant, blow, heave, wheeze, breathe hard, breathe heavily, catch one's breath, draw in one's breath, gulp, choke, fight for breath, struggle for air
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  • 2Rest after exercise to restore normal breathing.

    ‘she stood for a few moments catching her breath’
    • ‘Once the pain subsided, I was still panting and trying to catch my breath.’
    • ‘It felt like my chest tightened up and I had to struggle to catch my breath.’
    • ‘I crouched down behind a pile of broken stone to catch my breath.’